Sunday, October 2, 2011

Many Languages ~ One Goal: Improve Critical Thinking on Wikipedia

New project for Guerrilla Skepticism

I've been thinking about this for some time and want to share my thought process with you.  In the town I live in, Salinas, nearly half of the population speaks Spanish.  I speak Spanish in the context of my work as a photographer, understanding or speaking outside work is not so great.  But the idea that there are other languages people communicate in is a constant reality. 

As some of you may know, I'm very active with the Independent Investigations Group (IIG).  I like to know if things we are doing work,  and love feedback and stats.  At the beginning on my involvement with the IIG and Wikipedia editing,  I kept analyzing the amount of hits generated directly from Wikipedia to the IIG website, and what pages/topics were sending us the hits.  Overwhelmingly every month it was (and still is) anything to do with UFOs and Billy Meyer.  I noted that a lot of  these hits are coming from Wikipedia Japan.

I must admit that I'm not the quickest thinker, it takes me awhile to get-it.  I asked Robert Sheaffer who writes the Psychic Vibrations column for SI (here is his new book) "why are the Japanese so fascinated by UFO's?"  His answer "I really don't know why the Japanese are hitting your links big-time. Yes,
they are UFO-crazy, but then so are the French, Belgians, Chinese, Brazilians, Mexicans, Americans, Brits, and practically any other country you care to mention."  That answer really got me thinking, why then were we getting so many hits to from Wikipedia in Japanese?  (I'm sure you are all already there with the correct answer, remember I'm slow about this)

Could it possibly be that the IIG does not have a reference on other language's UFO Wikipedia pages?  Do other languages have UFO Wikipedia pages?  If they do have a page, is critical thinking represented well?  What about all the other pseudoscience topics?  If the English version is in such dire need of help, I can only imagine what the non-English ones might be like.  I believe that the English speaking countries have more skeptical organizations hosting skeptical events.  This outlet allows us to socialize and network with like-minded thinkers thus creating tons of podcasts, blogs and media to other English speakers.  What must it be like to live in Uganda or Equator as a skeptic?  No TAM like events happening down there that I know of.  Maybe because they don't have the social distractions we have they are more likely to DO SOMETHING for the skeptical cause?  Maybe they have already picked up on editing Wikipedia for skeptical content and have been doing so aggressively prior to Tim Farley's call to edit ?    I just don't know.

So here is what I'm proposing.  We are a very talented bunch, I know we have access to lots of skeptics that can read/write in many languages.  Why not take a short "call to action" and translate it into as many languages we can, and then post it back on this blog for people to copy/paste and send to any non-English speaking skeptical blogs/podcasts/individuals/groups we can find?  It won't be something that can be managed by me, I won't be writing any blogs in Tagalog in the near future, and don't really care for the Babel Fish translations of pages.  But maybe someone in the Philippines or elsewhere will see the call-out and pick up from there?

People of the world deserve to have access to well written and correctly cited, skeptical articles just as much as the English speaking world.  Please help if you can.  The following is what should be translated (not verbatim but its context).  The two paragraphs below that probably do not need to be translated (but it could be summed up as instructions to pass on)

For fun I've included a few Wikipedia pages in different languages along with September 2011's stats for that page. 

A call out for skeptics/critical thinkers to edit Wikipedia for factual content. 

Guerrilla Skepticism is the act of inserting well written, carefully cited skeptical/scientific references into Wikipedia pages that need critical thinking, while still following the guidelines and rules to make it into everyone’s online encyclopedia. This grassroots method allows skeptics working at home the ability to contribute to the skeptical movement without personally confronting people.

Wikipedia users will find references to skeptical articles that they can follow or not. Changing a mind can be a slow process, facts stacked onto more facts. When they begin to question they will start to search the Internet for answers. Wikipedia will be there waiting for them with no eye-witness anecdotal opinions, and no one in your face telling you how stupid your beliefs are. We will go a lot farther changing minds when the person is doing their own research which will allow them to set aside their cognitive dissonance and celebrate critical thinking with a clearer mind.

For more information visit 
contact me at


As a English speaker I have been focusing just on the English version of Wikipedia. Now it is time to broaden our scope, Wikipedia readers in every language deserve to have only facts on the pages they are visiting. This means we need volunteers to translate the above two paragraphs into whatever languages we can and send to critical thinking groups for publication. This could be newsletters, blogs, podcasts whatever media that will get the attention of critical thinking editors willing to help edit Wikipedia for skeptical/scientific/critical thinking content.

If you can read/write in another language, and can translate the above two paragraphs into explaining the goal (not just a direct translation) please do so and email back to me at If you know of any non-English speaking places that the translated "call to action" can be sent, please also email names/links to me.


Chupacabra in English September 2011 results - 81,755

Chupacabra in Tagalog September 2011 results - 20

Chupacabras in Spanish September 2011 results - 19,243

Chupacabras in French September 2011 results - 6


Unidentified flying object in English September 2011 results - 50,650

objeto volador no identificado in Spanish September 2011 results - 26,293

In Korean September 2011 results -  369

In Japanese September 2011 results - 32,156


1 comment:

  1. Starting to get responses. From Alvaro Prieto. Here is a site that is like a Skeptic Chick but in Spanish. They were at TAM one year.